Why Should CFOs Care About Cloud Computing? Here Are 5 Great Reasons

9/28/2017
By Phil Rainsberger

The business world is going digital—and it’s not only happening rapidly but also across all industries and across all areas of business operations. 

In the world of digital business, many of the old operational and process silos of the past are begin torn down: marketing, sales, service, and commerce are becoming fully integrated; the old “front office” and “back office” are being merged together as customer engagement moves to the forefront; and even the venerable office of the Chief Financial Officer is being turned upside-down by these profound changes in how companies create the new types of value that customers want and need.

In the past, CFOs were surrounded by and defined by structured data: costs, expenses, budgets, reconciliations, projections and the like, with everything clearly quantifiable.

Today and into tomorrow, however, CFOs are joining the front lines of the digital revolution because digital is redefining every facet of a company’s operations: how products and services are made, marketed, sold, consumed, and enhanced. Buyers aren’t just expecting but demanding to be able to engage with sellers digitally at every step of the buying process, and those buyers are no longer willing to settle for what the seller happens to have—buyers today want precisely what they want and need, and are willing to jump with a single click to a competitor who’s better aligned with that buyer’s requirements.

The key technology enabling these digital enhancements and transformations is cloud computing because it allows companies to get out of the business of building IT factories with the burden of buying and integrating servers and software and networks and patches and updates and cybersecurity.  With the transition to cloud computing, these companies can now focus more time and energy on dazzling their customers with their new products, services, and game-changing innovations. 

Better ROI on IT budgets is a no-brainer for why CFOs should care about the cloud—but several more high-value factors are at play as well. Let’s take a look at 5 great business-driven reasons CFOs should make cloud computing an absolute top priority for their companies.

1) As noted above, better ROI for IT budgets at a time when customer-centric IT is becoming more vital than ever before.

2) Customer-engagement models are changing and evolving at a dizzying pace, and traditional IT systems simply were never designed to handle or even allow frequent changes to applications, data sharing, new configurations, enhanced levels of cybersecurity, real-time insights, unstructured data, and more. CFOs who aren’t able to help deliver on all of those business requirements are putting their business, not to mention their careers, at great risk.

3) Flipping the arrow of time: for hundreds of years, the primary function of most finance teams was to explain or rationalize what had happened in the past rather than helping plan out the best path into the future. Oracle CEO Safra Catz, who had earlier served for several years as Oracle’s CFO, said this at a recent conference: “The real way it was in finance—in the world I grew up in—is we spent all our time looking backward.” But with today’s cloud-based apps like Enterprise Performance Management tied into core finance operations via cloud ERP, “The CFO’s job is now all about looking to the future.”

4) A study commissioned by Oracle about the changing nature of the CFO’s role revealed that 80% of the value of companies in the S&P 500 index today is based on “intangible assets”—the types of stuff that traditional CFO systems were never designed to capture or measure: intellectual property, customer data, brand image, social-media sentiment, and more. But over the past several years, modern cloud-based systems have been built to handle precisely those types of intangible assets so that CFO’s can capture and leverage all of their company’s assets to create greater value for customers and for the business.

5) Enriching the Finance team with digital talent has become a top-level priority for many CFOs for all of the reasons outlined above and also because this new-fangled “digital business” thing is not a fad. It is not a temporary distraction—it has become the primary force shaping how companies build competitive advantage in today’s global economy, and also the primary disruptor of not just businesses and their internal processes but also of entire industries. To attract the type of world-class talent that CFOs need to have throughout their organizations, companies must be able to demonstrate to these sought-after employees that cloud computing is truly and deeply embraced across the enterprise as a way to achieve world-class performance.